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Prep Girls Golf Tourneys Will Be Played, Run By The Utah Section PGA

Story by Mike Sorensen for the Deseret News

Although there will be no high school sports sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association this spring, tournaments for female golfers and a few male golfers will be played later this month.

The Utah Section PGA, which has helped run the state girls golf tournaments for the past decade, will hold an individual championship with each high school able to invite six golfers to compete. No team competition will be held.

The first event will be played on May 27 at Meadowbrook Golf Course in Salt Lake County Fox Hollow Golf Course for girls that play at 6A and 5A schools. On June 3 June 4, a tournament for 4A, 3A and 2A girls as well as 1A boys will be played, also at Meadowbrook at Rose Park Golf Course (boys prep golf for classes 2A through 6A are held in the fall).

“We’re sensitive to all the seniors who didn’t get to play and feel bad they had to miss out on this season,” said Utah Section PGA executive director Devin Dehlin. “We look forward to being able to give the kids something to look forward to.”

The entry fee is $40 per player with entries taken at utahpga.com. Golf coaches should send their list of players to agoodman@pgahq.com. Entries will close May 15 at 11 a.m.

Dehlin said the safety of the players, staff and everyone involved in the events will be a priority and tournament officials will be following CDC guidelines. They also will be following guidelines current at most golf courses with no rakes in bunkers, flagsticks left in and no scoreboard or scoring area. No coaches or caddies will be allowed and a decision on whether to allow spectators will be made closer to the dates of the tournaments.

The Utah Section PGA will also name 10-player all-state teams from each classification after the meets.

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The Peacock of the Fairways

By Randy Dodson

He was sitting in the corner of the viewing room by himself.

I looked at him, not catching his eye, and turned away thinking that I had met him before, somewhere. He looked familiar but I couldn’t place a name with his face. As much as I have run around in Utah’s golf circles it bothered me that I could not name him.

I moved along the viewing line at Billy Casper’s funeral and took a few more glances at him, again without catching his eye.

I paid my respects to Billy, his wife Shirley and the family then turned to find a seat in the chapel.

With one last look, he was looking right back at me. Not wanting to be disrespectful of someone I was sure I knew I walked over, shook his hand and introduced myself.

He smiled and said, “I’m Doug Sanders.”

I knew just enough of the former PGA Tour member to recognize his face but not enough to remember why.

For the next few minutes I sat with the “Peacock of the Fairways” as he told me a few stories of playing with Billy during their PGA Tour heyday. With a tear on his cheek he told me how they caravanned from stop to stop and that Billy would come to Houston and play his tournament. He missed the camaraderie of those days on tour.

Bob Casper said Sanders was known for going out of his way to be nice. “My mother said it meant a lot to her and our family that Doug attended the funeral.” He had driven to Utah from Texas to be there that day. Just for Billy. “That was really special to us,” Casper said.

From head to toe you could not miss Doug Sanders. With 20 PGA Tour wins he is best known for his neon-bright colorful apparel and for missing a three-foot putt to win the 1970 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Sanders lost the following 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus by one-stroke, 73 to 72. It was the second of three Nicklaus wins at the Open and the fourth of four runner-up finishes Sanders had in major tournaments.

“I remember thinking how bizarre it was that he would show up at an LDS  church in Utah County,” says sports anchor Wesley Ruff. “I think most people think of him as the guy who jabbed that little putt at the Open at St. Andrews and ended up in a playoff with Nicklaus, which he lost. But he won 20 times on the Tour. That’s a lot! What he did in the majors in 1966 is pretty amazing. Top 10 in all four that year! T2 at the British, T4 at the Masters, T6 at the PGA Championship, and T8 at the U.S. Open. And he won three times that year, including a playoff win over Arnold Palmer at the Bob Hope Desert Classic.”

Doug Sanders

Former Utahn Laury Livsey, the PGA Tour’s senior director of international communications provides the following history of Sander’s playing days in Utah:

“The two PGA Tour events Sanders played in Utah were the 1958 and1960 Utah Opens, both at the Salt Lake Country Club. He was T15 in 1958, fifth in 1960. Pretty respectable. In 1960, he held the 54-hole lead (64-67-64), two shots ahead of Bill Collins. He shot a final-round 71 to (Utah Golf Hall of Famer) Billy Johnston’s 63 and finished four shots behind Johnston (a prince of a guy who will deserve a long obituary and all the accolades despite not having near the career Sanders had). It went Johnston, Art Wall Jr, Collins and Ken Venturi (T3) and Sanders in fifth. A third-round 73 derailed his chances in 1958. As for his PGA Tour Champions career, he played once at Park Meadows, in 1999, when he was well past his prime. He finished 77th.”

Of the1960 Utah Open Deseret News sports writer George Ferguson reported, “And so it was that despite multi-sensational rounds, which entertained the huge galleries no end, the sub-par scorched course eventually put the whammy on all previous leaders – Jay Herbert, Bill Collins, Doug Sanders and Dow Finsterwald.

“Sanders, who carried a two stroke lead into Monday’s finale, found his nemesis lurking in the island of scrub oak which protects No. 4 green and prompts a play it safe or gamble decision.

“Doug gambled. And before he had scrambled out of the oak, onto the bordering rough, in and out of a sand trap and into the cup, he had a bogey and had lost the lead – at that particular point to Finsterwald and Collins.

“That seemed to set a scrambling pattern for Doug. The young man with the brief backswing who shared the lead the first day and led the third was through. He came in with a 71, a 266 total, good for fifth and $1,100.”  (Deseret News September 13, 1960.)

Of local interest, 2020 Utah Golf Hall of Fame inductee Lou North was the low amateur of the 1960 Utah Open at T25 with professional Dick Kramer. George Schneiter Sr. beat his nephew Ernie Schneiter Jr. for 28th place and a $90 payday. 

My only previous encounter with the Sanders persona happened in the Las Vegas National clubhouse where, as a former winner of the 1959 Sahara Pro Am, then an unofficial PGA Tour event and predecessor to the PGA Tour’s Sahara Invitational, Sander’s complete pink outfit; shirt, sweater, belt, pant, socks and shoes is enshrined in the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame.

Though his life on tour was full of documented shenanigans off the course, my memory of Sanders from our brief chat in Billy Casper’s viewing room is of a soft spoken man with a vivid memory of meaningful times with famous friends, playing a game that defined his life and lifestyle.

Sanders, at 86-years old, passed away earlier this week, on Easter Sunday, in Houston, Texas. 

Randy Dodson is the publisher of Fairways magazine and a frequent contributor to the Utah PGA News page.

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PGA of America Debuts New PGA.com to Enhance Connection Between PGA Professionals and Consumers

By Michael Abramowitz, PGA of America

The PGA of America has launched a newly reimagined PGA.com to connect consumers with PGA Professionals. The redesigned site, which is now managed in-house by the PGA, focuses on the journey a golfer takes to begin or improve his or her game, no matter their skill level.

PGA.com and its affiliated championship sites will also continue to provide coverage of prominent events, such as the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. However, an important emphasis of PGA.com will be on the opportunities enabled by enhancing the coach-consumer relationship.

“PGA.com is designed to bring to life the special relationship between PGA Professionals and consumers through coaching and other consumer-focused services, with a vision that ‘your best golf is ahead of you,’” said PGA Interactive General Manager Rob Smith. “There are so many ways in which a journey in golf can positively impact your life. Our job is to identify the best ways to connect with PGA Professionals across all aspects of the game, beginning with coaching.”

An important shift in the new PGA.com site will be speaking through the voice of the PGA Professional. On the site, PGA Professionals will be featured prominently and given the opportunity to provide exclusive content to engage consumers, including first-person feature articles, videos and advice to help golfers with various aspects of the game and the golf lifestyle.

In the second phase of the launch, scheduled for later this year, consumers will be able to easily search for PGA Professionals who have completed both their American Development Model for Golf (ADM) training available on PGA.Coach and a detailed PGA.com coach profile. ADM utilizes long-term athlete development and quality coaching concepts to promote sustained physical activity, athlete safety and age-appropriate growth. PGA.com is designed to help these coaches establish a relationship with new golfers and then build upon that connection, to give consumers the resources they need to achieve their goals.

“The PGA of America is committed to the future of coaching through the American Development Model for Golf,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley. “As we look to transition the industry from a transaction against a lesson to the lifetime value in a coaching relationship, PGA.com is being architected to facilitate the digital evolution of coaching.”

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Todd Mullen Selected as Utah High School Girls Golf Coach of the Year

By Hannah Wishart, The Richfield Reaper

Richfield High School’s girls’ golf Coach Todd Mullen has been selected as the 2018-19 Utah Girls Golf Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High School Coaches Association, Jan. 3. Mullen was specifically nominated by the Utah High School’s Activities Association as the most deserving recipient for the honor. 

This year’s honorees were selected based upon their coaching performance in the 2018-19 school year, lifetime community involvement, school involvement and philosophy of coaching. The NFHS relies on its member state associations to recognize those who are leading their sport, shaping their athletes and contributing to their community, according to Dr. Karissa L. Neihoff, executive director of the NFHS. 

“It is our pleasure to recognize leaders and role models at the interscholastic level,” Neihoff said. “And, it is to the credit of athletic directors like Richard Barton that coaches like Todd are able to contribute in such a positive way to the youth of our country and communities.” 

Todd Mullen is the head golf professional at Cove View Golf Course in Richfield, Utah, and won the 2018 Utah Section PGA Youth Player Development Leader Award for his continued efforts in sharing the game to the youth in the Richfield community.

Craig Norman

Craig Norman, 2019 Utah Section PGA Professional of the Year

By Dick Harmon

All Craig Norman ever wanted to be was a golf professional, make the game his life. When he got his wish, it was all he dreamed it would be.  Going to his job as head golf professional at Hobble Creek Golf Course is a step towards heaven for the Provo native.

Norman was named the 2019 Professional of the Year by his peers in the Utah Section of the PGA of America in October, an honor that left him stunned and speechless, humbled to his core.  “I had no idea and I may not be deserving of that great honor,” he said.

“If you look at the names on that list over the years, that is a lot to live up to. I am deeply honored and cannot believe it, no, not at all.”

Humility aside, Norman has etched a profile in Utah as a consummate pro, uniquely gifted to strike the right balance between manager of manicured acres and a facilitator of fun with clubs, balls, grass, and cups.  It takes an artist to put it altogether.

Norman, the nephew of one of Utah’s longest-tenured golf professionals, the retired Sonny Braun, replaced Braun a few years ago after being his assistant since 1993. Before that, he was an assistant at Riverside Country Club in Provo from 1986-1993. 

Norman’s work in 2019 is highlighted by overseeing the return of one of the state’s favorite public courses after issues with pump and water rights reduced irrigation by 30 percent for the 2018 season.  He has increased corporate tournament play to 40-plus events a year, organized an efficient, hardworking staff, increased participation in the men’s, women’s and junior associations tied to the course and traveled the state as a volunteer rules official. He was the official starter at the Siegfried and Jensen Utah Open at Riverside Country Club, just 11 days after undergoing back surgery.

A friendly, upbeat, accommodating face in Utah golf, his dedication and love for the game is evident in everything he does. It is a natural offshoot of his upbringing by parents who made golf their lifetime hobby and a sister, Terry Norman Hansen, one of the most prolific women’s amateur players in state history. Craig, who played at Provo High School, played collegiately at Utah State University.

“I wish my mom and dad were here to see this,” said Craig who lost his father in 2007 and his mother, a prolific association winner at East Bay and old Timpanogos Golf Courses, in 2017.

Norman has always been enchanted by the draw of golf.  “It’s the most unfair game you play because it’s a chase of the unattainable yet attraction of the belief that you can master it.  You can hit it perfectly, but if you can’t make a 3-footer, it’s all for naught.”

2019 Awards Announced

2019 Utah Section PGA Awards Announced

The Utah Section PGA is excited to announce the 2019 Award Winners. We had so many incredible nominees this year. It is great to know that we have so many PGA Professionals going above and beyond at their facilities and their efforts within Utah golf.

A special thank you to the committee for the time you put into the detailed process of selecting this year’s class. And thanks to all of you for your efforts in growing the game in Utah.

Congratulations to all of our deserving winners! We will be honoring them at the Annual Awards Banquet on February 11, 2020 at Bloomington Country Club in St. George, UT.

Professional of the Year: Craig Norman, Hobble Creek 

Teacher of the Year: Tommy Sharp, Golf Lab

Youth Player Development: Jake Wyatt, Gladstan 

Assistant of the Year: Jon DeBoer, Tuhaye

Jon Unger Award: Brian Howes, Callaway 

Merchandiser of the Year Private: Marty BauerGlenwild

Merchandiser of the Year Public: Lynn Landgren, Bonneville

Player Development Award: Bryant Boshard, The Ridge  

Superintendent of the Year Public: Tracy Howard, Carbon Country Club

Superintendent of the Year Private: Paul Stokes, Logan Country Club

Horton Smith: Chad Pettingill, Jeremy Ranch

Bill Howard: Dale Darling

Bill Strausbaugh: Darci Olsen, Glenmoor

Gentleman Jeff: Scott Whittaker

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ESPN’s Michael Collins Leads a Parade of Fun at the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship; Warren Fisher joins Collins as Co-host

By Michael R. Abramowitz, PGA of America

Think part Pied Piper. Part Eddie Murphy. Part Nick Faldo, minus the accent and, of course, the game.

ESPN reporter Michael Collins brought his entertaining traveling road show to the 2019 PGA Jr. League Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, for an extended weekend.

Collins—who once did a popular piece online with phenom Akshay Bhatia from the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris, where Bhatia (then a U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team Member) taught Collins how to do the “Orange Justice” dance from Fortnite—is as genuine as it gets.

With a jovial personality, distinctive gray beard and hearty laugh, you can’t help but fall for Collins’ shtick. And now he has a 11-year old sidekick in Utah PGA Jr. Leaguer Warren Fisher, who is co-hosting hilarious bits with Collins to air on November 3rd on ESPN2. Stay tuned.

Vaudeville would be proud.

“It was an absolute blast,” said Collins. “Yesterday was the first day I met him. I was impressed the first time I shook hands. Demeanor, knowledge, 11 years old, just a ball of energy.”

Whether it’s putting drills with Team North Carolina that fall into Collins’ uncanny impromptu bravado or it’s joining in the Championship’s Skills Challenge or serving as a serious on-course reporter, Collins has as many options as a Swiss Army knife.

Meanwhile, Fisher, a now two-time PGA Jr. League Championship Cub Reporter, serves as the ultimate complement, with an equally cutting-edge sense of humor and over-the-top personality.

Harry Caray and Steve Stone. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. Michael Collins and Warren Fisher? It’s not too much of a reach, now, is it?

“Halfway through our day, I told Warren, ‘There’s a good chance me and you will do some stuff in the future.’ He’s a lot of fun…He definitely knows what he wants to do. Knowing and being good at it is hard to do, but he definitely has both.

“He knows what he loves to do. He’s good at it. He’s coachable—easy to work with and great at directional stuff. There’s adults not as good, professionally. He’s one of those guys. Any time they want to ask me if I want to work with Warren, just tell me where I need to be and what time.”

Fisher has his eyes set on the stars and the best-dressed list.

“I want to work in television and do some acting, definitely,” proclaims the suave Fisher, who dresses in a Sunday-best, bow-tied suit, and last year, declared that he also wanted to be President of the United States. “Not any more. TV is where it’s at. For sure.”

“I knew just the way he was dressed this is going to be fun,” explained Collins. “I’m jealous of his look. And how he can slurp down all those milkshakes, too.”

Hollywood, here they come. Get their agent on the phone. Tell them the PGA Jr. League Championship is calling.

The 8th PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental is being held at Grayhawk Golf Club, Oct. 12-14. Twelve all-star teams from across America are competing for the national title. ESPN2 will televise a highlight show on Sun., Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT. ESPN is the new broadcast network of the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental.

For the original story and more info on the PGA Jr. League Championship, click HERE.

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Darci Dehlin-Olsen Elected to Utah Section Board

After numerous ballots Glenmoor Head Golf Professional Darci Dehlin-Olsen was elected to the Utah Section PGA Board and will fill the director position that Chad Pettingill has held the past three years. We are excited to have Darci join the Board and look forward to having a woman’s perspective as we continually look for ways to better serve our membership and grow the game of golf in Utah.

We would like to thank Todd Tanner, Chip Wesley and Michael Garrison for their willingness to serve the membership and making the selection process very difficult for our members. Four very qualified candidates looking to get involved and make a difference.  We will definitely be asking each of them to serve on various committees and will look forward to them running for future Board positions as they become available.

Thanks to all those that voted and participated in this process and we hope everyone finishes off the season strong. We look forward to 2020 and many exciting things ahead!

Jared Barnes

Jared Barnes to Represent Section as District 9 Director

The Utah Section PGA is excited to announce that Jared Barnes has been selected as the next District 9 Director representing the Utah Section PGA.

District 9 which includes Utah, Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Sections is 1 of 14 Districts represented on a national level with The Professional Golfers Association of America.  District Directors are selected from past presidents that have served their sections in the past as an officer.

The Utah Section was extremely fortunate to have 4 strong candidates that offered to serve the Utah Section in this position. Jared Barnes, Colby Cowan, Chris Stover and Ryan Kartchner all stepped up and offered to once again serve the Utah PGA and the members. After going through the selection process with the Board of Directors Jared Barnes was selected as the next District 9 Director. All 4 candidates were extremely qualified and we thank them for their continued service to the Utah Section membership.

Jared served on a couple different national committees when he was Utah Section President and has a great reputation on a national level. We are excited to have Jared as our representative and will look forward to him making a difference for the members of the Utah PGA and District 9. Jared made this comment about his selection “I’m equal parts excited and humbled for this opportunity. I look forward to getting back to serving our section, district and our association.”

Good luck to Jared in this position and thank you for your willingness to serve the PGA.